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Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Liriano, Eckstein late additions

July 11, 2006

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— Lucky for Francisco Liriano that someone in his family picked up the phone.

The Minnesota rookie ace was added to the AL All-Star team Monday after Jose Contreras pitched himself out of a spot while St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein replaced injured Jose Reyes on the NL side.

Left off the original roster and barely beaten out in Internet fan voting for the final place, Liriano headed home to the Dominican Republic for the All-Star break.

That's when he got the call - sort of.

Unable to find him, the AL turned to Boston star David Ortiz, and the Dominican slugger phoned Liriano's brother. Eventually, the Twins located their young pitcher.

Liriano is 10-1 with a 1.83 earned-run average, and 102 strikeouts in only 881â3 innings.

Contreras threw six innings for the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, so the AL decided it needed another pitcher for tonight's game.

Boston's Curt Schilling was next in line - the pecking order was determined when all AL players made their picks - but he pitched six innings against Contreras and also took a line drive off the right elbow.

"I'm not bothered or disappointed I'm not going to pitch," Contreras said through a translator. "I pitch for my team, to help my team win, and we're fighting for the division now.

"Yesterday was a good game - a long game - and I made 117 pitches and I'm very happy to be here at the All-Star game. I wish I could pitch, but it's more important I be ready for Friday to help my team win," he said.

Reyes cut his lefty pinky sliding headfirst into first base Friday night for the New York Mets. He won the fan voting at shortstop - Atlanta's Edgar Renteria will start in his place. Eckstein, who started for the NL last year, is hitting .311.

Reyes said he was disappointed over not being able to play in his first All-Star game.

"Injuries are part of the game," he said. "But I'm still here, I'm going to enjoy it. I'm not going to be there on the field, but I can't do anything about it."

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